I am fond of illustrating my points with stories from my own life. Really, it’s not that I’m so egotistical that I think everyone wants to hear about my life – it’s just that by my age, so much has happened that there seems to be an appropriate illustration for almost everything!
For example, there was a statement my uncle made when I received my real estate license years ago. With the ink still fresh on my license, my uncle asked me where I was going with this, now that I had achieved it. Somewhat puzzled, I said that hopefully I was going to make money. He asked what my plan was. I said that I planned to make a lot of money! That’s when he said that I wouldn’t without a plan.
I have to admit that I was not only clueless about that exchange, but remained clueless for a number of years thereafter. It wasn’t until one day that it came to me – I had been working hard, but without a plan, towards a goal which I couldn’t specify. And since I hadn’t thought out what I really wanted (money always seemed to be a good catch-all), there was no way that I could realistically know how to attain it.
The hardest part was determining what I really wanted in my life, both material and immaterial. Did I want financial security and the things money could buy? Did I want, on the other hand, to devote myself to becoming the most honest, caring and trustworthy person I could be? While becoming affluent and caring are not mutually exclusive, one has to take precedence over the other. When I have read the mission statements of various companies, there is always one main goal specified. After this, of course, there are secondary goals, but there is always a primary one… profit.
So one day I sat down to put into writing what I really wanted to achieve during my lifetime, and how to go about it. What did I think was really worth working for? Or to put it another way, when I died, what did I want in my obituary? I definitely didn’t want all my friends and relatives to agree that the statement “she always looked after #1” should go in. Neither did I want “she devoted her life to making money” to be how I was remembered! Once I realized how I didn’t want to be remembered, it became a little clearer what my goals really were.
I realized that my primary goal was actually to use any gifts or talents that had been given to me to the best of my ability and for the benefit of everyone possible. This covers a lot of ground, but I didn’t want my own personal mission statement to be self-limiting. Once my first goal was listed, I could add sub-categories, so to speak. If I thought I had the gift of communication, for example, then I needed to explore the best ways possible to communicate with others, as well as fostering communication between different people. If I thought I had a knack for being helpful, then I should explore the different ways to best utilize my time to do this.
All of us, I believe, have our own belief, or mission statement, about what we want from life. Whether we sit down one day and write it out, or whether we just verbalize the direction we believe to be the best one, it is good to have a plan. If we plan what we want to achieve in our lives, it stands to reason that our goals can be more efficiently actualized. We have a limited amount of time to use during our lives. Do we want to squander that time, or do we want to utilize it as quickly and as well as we can? I know that I did not use my time as well as I could have, until I was asked a simple question: Where was I going?
Where are you going – and how can you get there?